This is the start of what should be a four-part blog series around the new BusinessObjects (BOBJ) licensing offering. As a technologist and nerd at heart, I do my best to stay away from the licensing discussion, but I felt the new bundles are so compelling that I needed to blog about them.
It’s been close on a year, I guess, since my last blog post so, for this announcement to spark the excitement to make this a four-part blog, you should know how fired up I am about this!!!
I’ve always believed that SAP has had the potential to offer their customers a great technology stack in the Analytics Space. So much so that back in 2012, yes 2012, I wrote the following blog on how I felt SAP should approach the market for the Classic BOBJ customer (scroll down to the EDW / Non-BW World). The funny thing re-reading that today is that the majority of what I wrote back then still holds true today! Enough of the history lessons…
Before I get into the finer details, I think a very important point here is that this offering is aimed at Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) or “classic BOBJ” customers. For the last few years I’ve often heard the BOBJ folks grumbling at conferences that SAP are only worried about their BW customers. So, to my fellow EDW peeps, Merry Christmas…. in February.
Instead of typing out 1000’s of words as to how/why the added technologies will benefit you, what I have decided to do in Part 2 is compose a full video of all the technology in play and replicate the scenario of a BOBJ Oracle customer looking to take advantage of the added software.
So let’s quickly process Blair’s post. Bundled in you now get:
Those who read my posts or know me well will know that I did/do believe that SAP IQ is a thing of greatness. Instead of me rambling on about it here, please take a look at the awesomeness of SAP IQ below that I did in 2013. Watch from the 5 to 11 minute mark. Apologies in advance to the SQL Server fan boys as it’s not pretty for you …
So I pose the question to the EDW BOBJ folks: who out there would not benefit from having SAP IQ running under your universes, increasing performance and very importantly the experience of your end users? (I know I’m opening myself up here to what hopefully will be a healthy comments thread.)
With SAP IQ you will get:
- A columnar store (don’t worry, 99% of your SQL will work)
- Massive data load speeds
- Insane performance on your queries
- A unicorn – that’s for James Oswald
- Run time edition
- This means that it must be one of the BOBJ tools that queries this data.
What you won’t get:
- A transactional/OLTP database
- We aim to get SAP IQ to bulk load at around 50-100k transactions per second (tps) using BULK loads, but if you want to do an INSERT INTO statement, then you’re looking at 1 tps.
- SAP IQ is designed to store and query massive amount of data and not act as a transactional database under your source systems.
I guess you’re asking… well why doesn’t everyone in the world run SAP IQ … right? Well, in my honest external-to-SAP opinion, it’s always been a bit cost-prohibitive as it’s never been a cheap offering! Having said that, I am yet to lose a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) battle with SAP IQ, but the end number often had to get approval from “higher up”. The brilliant news is that, as existing BOBJ customers, we no longer have to worry about that cost which frees up our precious budget to all of you to buy me beers at the next conference we connect at!
SAP Data Integrator (DI)
The use, or lack thereof, of ETL tools in EDW landscapes varies. I’ve often seen, and worked in, environments where complex SQL scripts and stored procedures rule the roost. Yes, they are efficient in terms of performance, but trust me, they are a nightmare to maintain or even enhance by anyone but the original developers. Good for job security… yes… but that’s about it. I often joke, although it’s not funny, that every company has a “Frank.sql” file with 100,000 lines of code that Frank was very proud of when he wrote it, but he’s now living in Europe as a ski instructor and everyone is too scared to change let alone enhance that code!
When I walk into landscapes like this and ask why there is no ETL tool, it’s often one of two scenarios and also a combination of the two:
- The current SQL files are legacy and what have “always been there”
- a. I recently worked with a customer who had 8 different types of scripting methods to load data into their DWH – try maintain that!
- Cost.. Enterprise-scale ETL tools once again aren’t cheap, but here again this is something you no longer have to worry about… did I mention those beers?
If you are in scenario 1 above, then yes, there will be investment and cost moving your existing code to DI, but the de-risking alone should get you excited about this project! Imagine sleeping well at night knowing that if things do go wrong, any skilled DI developer could come into your landscape and quickly see what the jobs are tying to do instead of spending weeks or months trying to figure out and then trying to change Frank.sql!
SAP PowerDesigner is a great modelling tool (cue the Zoolander references) that I have used extensively. To be fair to the tool, I’ve used it mainly from a DWH design perspective, but it has many great attributes that should make a skilled data modeller drool!
The key feature to me, and I will showcase it in the Demo, is that PowerDesigner has the ability to quickly reverse engineer your entire DWH schema using ODBC. So, in one step, you have your existing data model. Then PowerDesigner has the nifty feature of “Switch RDBS” and it will convert your data model into SAP IQ syntax for you.
Once that is done, you can either:
- 1. generate a DDL script to run on SAP IQ ; or
- 2. generate the tables direct from PowerDesigner into SAP IQ .
The rule of thumb here for me is that PowerDesigner will take care of the 95 % (there are always some gremlins), and the great news here is that you can achieve this in a few minutes!
So where to from here?
I know putting a $ figure here is tricky and dangerous, but by my maths you’re looking at a good couple of hundred of these worth of additional software that is now getting bundled and included with your existing BI4.x spend. 😎
What I would do, immediately, is acquire some hardware, whether virtual or physical, and stand up an instance of SAP IQ as a Proof of Concept (POC) . For a full list of supported platforms, you can find the PAM here (SMP login required).
Once SAP IQ is stood up, you can dump and load data from your existing RDBMS into SAP IQ and do some benchmark queries and I can almost guarantee my soon-to-be-built house that you will be positively blown away by the results.
As mentioned above, you can use PowerDesigner to help you move your existing schema to SAP IQ to fast-track this process, or even create duplicate jobs out of your existing ETL tool and change the target DB to be SAP IQ.
Once this is done and your BI4.x end users or developers can start to ask questions of the data that they have never been able to in the past, the wheels will move fast, so strap yourself in as it should be a wild ride. Many times before I have had POC SAP IQ servers that have become production at the drop of a hat.
To wrap things up, I fired Blair Wheadon some questions around the new offering that I hope will clear up any confusion.
CV: You mention 8 cores of SAP IQ. Can this be a multiplex implementation or must it be simplex?
BW: SAP IQ is limited to a max of 8 cores across multiple instances. The sum of all cores cannot exceed 8. No restrictions on multiplex / simplex are mentioned in the software use rights document.
CV: For SAP IQ can you load the data natively or does it need to be loaded with Data Integrator?
BW: No restrictions on IQ data loading is mentioned in the software use rights, so native loading is supported.
CV: What happens when a customer needs to expand their landscape beyond the 8 cores? Are their additional run time licenses at a discounted rate?
BW: No. This restricted use license is only available with the BI Suite. Additional capacity requires the purchase of a full use SAP IQ license.
CV: Can you explain the main difference between Data Integrator and Data Services? I guess the question is which parts of Data Services are not included in Data Integrator?
BW: Data Services = Data Integrator + Data Quality + Text Data Processing + Metadata Management.
CV: The 8 core Data Integrator server – is it OK to split the IPS and make the Job Server use the 8 cores?
BW: Yes, this is the recommend configuration.
CV: The PowerDesigner license – is that a floating license for developers or can only one developer use that?
BW: It’s one CSBL. So it’s floating.
CV: How do you define a customer that owns a BI Suite license, i.e. which customers qualify?
BW: Any customer that owns any of the following material codes: 7018568, 7018569, 7017688, 7017689, 7017877
CV: Is it true that every time SAP IQ destroys a competitor’s database in a performance benchmark, an angel grows a set of wings?
BW: Yes. Unless it’s HANA that gets beat 🙂
CV: Does this apply to Edge customers?
CV: If a customer “thinks” they qualify but are not 100 % sure, then who’s the best person to speak to at SAP?
BW: The easiest way to find out is to log on to SAP Service Marketplace and see if they can find and download IQ.
CV: Will this increase the customer’s maintenance fee or will that stay as is?
BW: Maintenance fees will not change with this new functionality.
CV: Is this a limited time offering or is it safe to say that this is the new Analytics BI Suite offering going forward?
BW: This is a permanent offer.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and I’m super excited to bring you Part 2, which is already a Work in Progress!